Something incredible woke me up out of a religious stupor a few years ago while I was wrestling with two of Jesus’ teachings.
Something incredible woke me up out of a religious stupor a few years ago while I was wrestling with two of Jesus’ teachings. The first is found in Luke 17:20 – “One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the Kingdom of God come?’ Jesus replied, ‘The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs (or speculations). You won’t be able to say ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is within (among) you.’”
What is he really saying? The more that I thought about it, the more I came to realize that Jesus is revealing something about the transformed life. I think he is saying that it is actually the emergence of the Kingdom of God, right here in our midst. Simply stunning. It won’t be big castles or significant governmental buildings or even political groups that one should be looking for, but rather, it emerges in our midst, all around us … and might I add … through us.
The second passage that snagged my attention is from John 3:1-4 … when Jesus is approached by Nicodemus in the evening – “After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you.’ Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.’”
For most of my life, I interpreted this verse to mean that unless I’m born again, I’ll never go to heaven. But the operative word here is “see.” If, as Jesus teaches us in Luke 17, the Kingdom of God is emerging in our very midst, then when I read John 3, I realized that Jesus is actually saying that “unless we are born anew by the Spirit of God, we won’t be able to even “see” that very Kingdom emerge.” In other words, we’ll be blind to it.
The implications for this sent tremor effects through my understanding of God and how he works in our midst. Instantly, there became value in how I interacted with people. My desire was no longer to simply leave this world to go to heaven, rather, it became increasingly more valuable to experience God right now, right here, on this very earth, because the Kingdom of God is for right here and right now and I’m a part of it as it emerges. I believe it can emerge through me.